One thing that isn’t ideal about DONATION, when run on Windows Vista or Windows 7, is that you have to run logged in as an Administrator. Not only that, but when it runs, if you have User Account Control (UAC) turned in Windows, which is the default, it prompts you as to whether it’s OK to let the program make changes to your computer every time it runs.
That’s really not how well-behaved programs are supposed to work, unless they absolutely have to have those Administrator rights. Until recently, I knew of no way to get around this, because if you use the Database -> Switch Databases menu option, it had to change an ODBC data source to do that, which could only be done as an Administrator. Fortunately, I have figured out a way to run DONATION without needing to use ODBC data sources, so that problem goes away.
The Administrator privileges are also used, however, to allow DONATION to create and modify files under its own directory (normally C:Program FilesDonation), because normally Windows will not allow non-Administrator programs to modify anything under C:Program Files. Examples of files that are currently written there are your license key file, mail-merge letters and receipts, a file for tracking which database you are switched to if you use Database -> Switch Databases, and of course, your database file itself – donation4.db, in the Data subdirectory. If users want to supply a logo or signature bitmap file for the receipts, they have to be put into C:Program FilesDonation as well, which is even harder, because the users have to do that with some other program, which means they have to explicitly run that other program as an Administrator.
To make all of this more “correct”, in Windows terms, I need to stop running DONATION as an Administrator, and move all of those changeable files under its directory to somewhere else that all users can write. My proposal is to use a subdirectory under the All Users Application Data directory. (This is one of Microsoft’s recommendations.) This would be:
- “C:Program DataCooperstock SoftwareDonation” on Windows Vista or Windows 7
- “C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataCooperstock SoftwareDonation” on Windows XP
- “C:WindowsAll UsersApplication DataCooperstock SoftwareDonation” on Windows 2000
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to this change. The first is that it will be harder for users to find those files (including their database file!) if they are looking for them, and harder for me to even tell them where to look for them, since they are in different directories on different versions of Windows.
Another problem is that those are “hidden” directories, which you normally can’t even navigate to with My Computer, Computer, or Windows Explorer, unless you explicitly type in their names. You can only get to see those directories if you go to Tools -> Folder Options in one of those program, switch to the View tab, and check the radio button for “Show hidden files and folders”.
By the way, another change would be that many settings that the program stores, like various settings from Maintenance -> Main Window Options and Maintenance -> Receipt Options, which are currently stored in the Windows Registry, would now be stored in a text-based profile file in that folder mentioned above. This is because I want DONATION to work for any users logged on to the computer, and the Registry settings for all users can only be written by an Administrator. (I know that very few installations of DONATION are on computers with multiple users logging in to them with different logons, but it could certainly happen, and I think it’s best to make it work in that situation.) I may also move more of those settings into the database itself, mind you, which would be good, because they would come with you from computer to computer if you moved DONATION.
So, I’m asking for your opinions on my making this change. Except for not having to be prompted every time DONATION starts to say it’s OK, and for some new users, not having to obtain an Administrator Windows logon if they don’t already have one, there very little no real “win” in this change, and some real losses (harder to find those changeable files that were previously under C:Program FilesDONATION).
What do you think? (As usual, please Reply via the blog, if it’s convenient.) Thank you.